So I'm just going to say I'm very skeptical of any sort of armchair trends analysis that cites no data whatsoever. The reality is it's very difficult right now to determine what's happening in media because there's both so much of it and the quality of data available about things like popularity has actually decreased significantly due the proliferation of streaming (which mostly doesn't publish ratings/streams) and ebook only book publication (which is a black hole, Amazon's publication stats in general are garbage). Some things to consider: 1. For a variety of reasons there has been a distinct decoupling between 'media attention' and viewership with regard to many forms of media over the past couple of decades. Many shows that are extremely popular receive little to no media attention - the Big Bang Theory was the #1 show on television for years, no one talked about it. While certain shows, especially high-concept shows on premium networks like HBOs Sucession receive media attention vastly out of proportion to their viewership (which isn't to say that those shows aren't worth talking about, it's just they are surprisingly niche). If the media ecosystem has a preference for 'dark and gritty' - which it is arguable that it does - then those shows get over emphasized compared to more popular but lighter fare. 2. Game of Thrones was a massive outlier in terms of popularity and influence in the Anglophone entertainment sphere. Now it certainly says something about media consumption that such a show could reach the heights of popularity that it did, but a single massive outlier does not make a trend and in fact is liable to distort matters if considered heavily. 3. Star Trek is also an outlier. Trek, especially the Trek of the 90s (TNG, DS9, and Voyager) represent one of the most utopian settings to ever acquire a mass market audience in history. Consider that Babylon 5, a contemporary of 90s Trek is much, much darker despite still being an overwhelmingly hopeful and positive show in terms of overall themes. The Star Trek bar is an impossibly high one to judge another era of media by, since it was an outlier even among shows of the 1990s. It's also worth mentioning that the operational extent of some of these sub-genres is tiny. 'Live-action space shows of the 2010s' for example is not even ten US programs. There simply aren't enough shows to form a tend. There aren't even that many novels either, at least not notable ones. Amazon's list of best selling science fiction is dominated by Golden Age classics written decades earlier (Foundation just spiked due to Apple), and the handful of modern notables aren't exactly drowning in darkness. The best selling science fiction novel of 2021 is the relentlessly positive Project Hail Mary (its by Andy Weir of The Martian fame, and it's basically The Martian + alien friend). Fantasy is all over the place. TV is mostly novel adaptations and I wouldn't call them particularly dark. Honestly, romance is the dominant theme in modern fantasy adaptations, since paranormal romance has rather significantly flooded the zone in recent years and tends to be cheap to adapt (Netflix loves hiring groups of attractive 20-somethings to run around in Lower Mainland BC and/or Metro Atlanta while CGI-ing up the backdrops) compared to major fantasy epics. The one sub-genre that could really be labelled as consistently dark is near future science fiction, but then it kind of always has been, and if it has gotten darker that's arguably a reaction to real world trends (or perhaps a perception of real world trends, since aside from the environment the data suggests most things are getting better). There are plenty of positive and uplifting stories out there, even famous ones, found with a little looking. I mean, the 2020 Hugo went to A Memory Called Empire, in which poetry saved civilization (and a piece of space opera I'd recommend to any Star Wars fan). And indulgence in hyper-violent cynicism doesn't always last forever. Joe Abercrombie, who was sitting at the absolute pinnacle of that zone in fantasy appears to have slammed hard into diminishing returns with his Age of Madness trilogy (count me among the many who stopped reading).